It’s a time-honored tradition to have inmates in prisons do menial tasks while incarcerated. From making license plates and paving roads to cleaning debris from highways, inmates are often put to work doing jobs most people won’t.
And while some of the tasks do have a benefit to society, rarely does the work give the prisoners any self-satisfaction.
However, at the Pendleton Correctional Facility in Indiana, inmates are involved in a program that refurbishes wheelchairs that are then shipped out to distribution sites where those in need can receive one at no charge.
The program, known as “Wheels for the World”, was started in 1994 by the Joni and Friends Ministry and offers the wheelchairs for free along with a copy of the bible. The Joni & Friends International Disability Center serves as the administrative center for ministries which provide outreach to thousands of families affected by disability around the globe.
The ministry obviously cuts down on costs by using inmates instead of for-profit repair centers to refurbish old and damaged wheelchairs. Inmates at the Pendleton Correctional Facility restore the wheelchairs for recipients around the world.
“This operation is about changing lives for the better,” Superintendent Wendy Knight TV-6 in Indianapolis, “With the 442 wheelchairs refurbished so far, it has done just that”.
Conditions at some of the distribution sites are beyond rough. Organizers say some are so impoverished that those in need of wheelchairs literally crawl to the distribution sites to receive their wheelchairs.
While the focus is mostly on the ministry for putting the program together and the fortunate people with disabilities who are able to finally have use of a wheelchair, the inmates can’t be forgotten for the role they play. None are forced to do the manual labor and many could simply idle their days away smoking in the prison yard. But a select few have decided to use their time to help those in need and with their help the program has become a success.
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